Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Two Questions

There is two questions I've been asked in the last weeks.

The first question..."Do you mind if I ask about Ed?"

The answer? Not at all. I know that people differ in the way that they react to things like cancer. Some may not want to talk.

But Ed and I do want to talk. Maybe we need to talk. We don't mind discussing Ed's diagnosis, the prognosis, and his treatment.

To me, dragging something out in the light, looking it over, and discussing it with friends makes it less scary. Or maybe, if still scary, at least we have the comfort of knowing that others are standing with me next to scary things.

It has been an amazing experience to talk with friends who can remind us of God's goodness in the hard times. To be reminded that all of us face death sometime and heaven is going to be better than we ever imagine. No, it doesn't make it any more fun to face death at age forty. Or think of the pain of separation. But it does help us remember what is truly important in life.

And so, if you are wondering how Ed is doing, the answer is Very Well. Physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. He is nearly finished the fourth week of his six weeks of radiation and chemo. He is still driving to radiation every morning and then going to work. He gets tired in the afternoon and usually quits work at about 3:00 and comes home for a nap. But then he feels good enough to do something in the evening.



Like grill his awesome smoked pork loin. (Recipe found in an old issue of Cooks Illustrated.)

I expected Ed would spend most of the summer sick in bed, but we've been able to attend family reunions, church picnics, and so on. Ed does tire quickly so we haven't went camping, biking, or hiking, but as long as he can stay near his lawn chair, he enjoys staying part of activities.





(Above photos taken at Warrior's Path State Park on July 4th.)

The last few days he did start losing hair from the radiation. I don't think it looks bad, not worse than many other forty-year-old's receding hairline. But Ed is getting tired of shedding and threatens to shave the rest of his hair.

The second question is maybe the opposite of the first and definitely the most common..."I know you have other things on your mind right now, but do you mind if I ask you a question about _____________(fill in the blank with gardening, bread baking, homeschooling, etc)?"

My answer to that question is "please do." Again, I know that people vary, but I want you to ask how Ed is doing. I want you to show that you care about what we are going through right now. But then I want to talk about something normal. I want to know what is going on in your life.

In some ways cancer is now defining our life. But in many ways, life is the same as always.



I'm still a mom. (Who even with a cutie with pigtails, hasn't become Super Mom and still needs a double dose of grace most days.)

I'm still homeschooling and reading many books with my children. (We actually just began school last week with our crazy July to April school schedule!)

I still cook three meals (and many snacks) every day. In the few minutes I've been sitting here I've had two children tell me they are starving. Last week I actually baked a batch of bread which was the first in many many weeks. It took some of the joy from it since Ed isn't eating carbs, thus no bread, but my children appreciated it.

I still have interests in life. The other week I was able to meet three friends for lunch. We spent four hours talking about books, writing, and motherhood and I came away feeling refreshed deep down to my toes.



I still have a garden. On Tuesday evening, Ed actually joined the children and I in weeding. Most of our garden has been mulched with cardboard and grass clippings but the section that wasn't had a  carpet of weeds. It was the first time Ed has been in the garden since April.



Last week we had two inches of rain and the green beans, carrots, and tomatoes have never looked better.

There may come a time in this journey that all normal life will come to a screeching halt. We learned in May how quickly life can transform.

But we have also learned how God can carry us through both the normal and the tragic, the delightful and the devastating, and how grief can still be full of grace.

And even in the best of the normal days there are some things that are not so delightful, such as the infestation of Japanese Beetles on our grapes, raspberries, and green beans. So I'll end with two questions for you.

Do you have a solution against Japanese Beetles?
Do the Japanese Beetle traps actually work?

50 comments :

  1. I'm pleased to hear that Ed seems to be doing well. Thank you for allowing us to ask questions of you. What curriculum do you use? Do you have a specific one, or do you mix and match? M

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    1. I use a variety such as Christian Light Education math and Apologia science. This is a question I am asked often so I'll just plan to do a post on it sometime.
      Gina

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    2. You are such an amazing person and woman of God. I am older than you and can only hope to one day achieve your strength. I am so happy that I came across your page, I am happy to find this post with answers about Ed, and also the reading of your beliefs. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us. I hope to also learn from you about your homeschooling techniques as I am beginning my journey this month with homeschooling my twin boys.

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  2. I LOVED this post! Thank you for giving us insight. We want to learn how to relate to you, and that it is ok to ask questions.
    Japanese Beetles..............I know nothing. But, I just listened to a podcast that was saying that God probably made something to feed on each of these pests............some bird, like a starling, for example.
    As I listened, I thought, what do we do, put an ad in the paper. Attention all starlings head over to Ed and Gina's house. Supper is waiting??
    Hope this brought a smile.
    Praying on!

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    1. I just read your comment out loud to Ed and you made us both chuckle. Thanks.
      Gina

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  3. Miss Gina you are a writer!

    I pick beetles off by hand into a can with an inch of gasoline in the bottom. I imagine they die quicker that way than in soapy water, ha. Wonder if anyone else has a quicker way. I see Japanese beetles all over the roses at a formal garden near us where they use spray, so I imagine they're tricky little things.

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    1. I had a ton of Japanese beetles this year and they devoured the rose bushes and my other plants, Best thing I have ever used it the traps, I have also made my own by hanging the plastic soda bottles up on poles or in the plants and they fall into them and cannot get back out.

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  4. Gina I haven't a clue what Japanese beetles are but can't help there but I do know how important it is to talk about 'normal' topics as I am a carer of a family member with a disability and it is so easy to let illness take over your whole life. I will continue to pray for you all and I hope you get some help with getting rid of the beetles.

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  5. Dear Gina

    Praise God that Ed can be feeling so well! That is a blessing! Thanks for sharing all that you do. I'll continue to pray for your family.

    Sorry I can't help with your Japanese beetle problem as we don't have them here in Australia.

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  6. We used a trap a few years back, and all it did was attract even more beetles to our garden...and then they ate a hole in the trap and ruined it. :(

    I am a long-time reader who seldom comments, but I would like you to know that I am praying for your family and asking for God's perfect peace for you, in Jesus' name.

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  7. The traps just attract more beetles. Drown them in water. I noticed your dh's face is red from the radiation. I had radiation 10 years ago for breast cancer and had burns under my breast. My oncologist office recommended Aquaphor for the skin and it helped alot. If his skin gets bad you might ask his doctor. I am sorry your family is going through this. I have read your blog for years but never commented. I am on the Western part of PA but my son goes to school at Millersville University. Thought you might live near the area. Cheryl

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    1. Yes, he does have a burn on his forehead from radiation. His doctor recommended Aquaphor but that doesn't seem to be helping. Ed is using another burn ointment now. At least it doesn't seem to be getting any worse.
      Gina

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  8. Hi Gina -
    I enjoy your blog. While our worlds are different but many of the ordinary things in life are very much the same. So I appreciate your perspective on those things.

    My different question to you: There are a few blogs I read consistently but seldom respond because I have a hard time having a conversation that has only 2 parts - the blogger says something, I respond, end of conversation. I always feel there should be more. As a blogger what are your expectations to something you've posted and how do you interpret the different types of responses you get -- from the readers w/no reply, to a totally unexpected reply, to the long reply, do you ever feel like you're talking to a wall when you don't get any reply?



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    1. I'm so glad you replied this time! I know that blogging is a unique writing vehicle. Compared to other writing I have had published that has no way of responding, I love that with blogging I get to hear directly from readers. But I also understand that many readers will not comment, and I'm okay with that. I suppose it is just like a conversation when some of us will talk a lot and others will just be good listeners!
      Gina

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  9. Glad to hear that Ed is doing well. We keep him in prayer for healing and strength, along with all of you.
    That's an amazing garden! I'd love to try, but our sand hill 6acres says no, not without a lot of work. And then the deer chime in....lolol.
    Praying for you all to have a happy and blessed summer.

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  10. I just wanted to say thank you. Your example of joy in Christ, through all of the pains and heartaches of life here on earth, I think is an example of the glory of Christ shown in a transformed life.

    My church family has been looking at the parable of the seeds and soils. I see the fruit of the Spirit in your posts and in your pictures. I am glad the cares of the world have not been weeds in your life, keeping you from being fruitful, in spite of the temptation to be distracted from Him.

    Thank you for your example, not because you are perfect, but because you reflect an image of Him and prompt me to look to Him. You and Ed and your family are in my prayers.

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  11. Another excellent report on how well Ed is doing! Praise the Lord! Prayers continue. I"m another that does not know what to do about Japanese Beatles, but I like the idea a previous commenter had: Market your JB to the Starlings! If that doesn't work, you are such a good writer, that I imagine if you put your mind to it, you could even convince them to go back home to Japan! HUGGS and smiles!

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  12. Thanks for sharing! I like your outlook.....not denying the difficult journey since Ed's diagnosis, yet an awareness of God's presence with you. May that continue. Unfortunately, I can't offer any advice on Japanese beetles!

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  13. Dear Gina, I have been reading your blog for years but I have never commented before today. I am a grandmother who has been a Christian for nearly fifty years. I read the blog not to find answers to "mommy questions" but to have refreshing read about a Christian family living out their faith. Television and even culture itself is so secular and so sad that I need to know their are other Christians out there. I am so thankful for you and your family. I pray for you all every day. Your trust in God is beautiful to me.

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    1. I agree with paular, I also am reading and loving it just to find another mother, wife, woman who has faith and a beautiful way of sharing it with us in a time when the world seems to have forgotten all things good and pure. We are not perfect but Praise God for other Christians who love to just share good wholesome conversation and love being here to pray for your family. Your family will be in my daily prayers. God is Great and he always finds a way to be on time, everytime.

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  14. Thankful to hear that Ed is doing well. I have been praying for you and your family. We know God is able to help you through this difficult time. I just finished reading a book about a woman who had a massive brain bleed and who had years of surgeries and therapy. The books is called Hope Heals and it was really a blessing to see how the Lord helped her and her family through this difficult time. My husband has used the Japanese beetle traps in our yard as well but they didn't seem to eliminate the problem totally. Some years we did find quite a few in the traps, so I guess they did some good. :)

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  15. Oh, Gina!! We've know for a good long while that God has truly given you the gift of writing, and once again, it's clearly shining through! :-) What fun to read this post, and hear how God is graciously giving you good days during this hard. Continuing to pray & rejoice with you!! ~Randy & Eunice

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  16. A friend with radiation burns found that aloe vera gel helped her a lot.

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  17. This is amazingly awesome to see that Ed is doing so well! ! Thank you, God for answering prayers this way! We also have 6 children, 2 boys, 4 girls. They are ages 11-3,and your story has found a compassionate spot in my heart.
    We catch countless Japanese beetles with traps, plus spray trees and plants we don't eat. We put the traps about 6 ft away from the grape vine, for example. A bag fills in about 2 days! !!

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  18. Well, we have both the beetles and the starlings so not sure if that's a solution. I've been knocking them in a cup of soapy water or spraying them with soapy water, but there are SO MANY! Praying for you...Regina Martin

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  19. we tried something like this in the past and were very pleased with the results! http://www.ehow.com/how_7650568_homemade-lure-japanese-beetles.html

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  20. the warmfireplaceJuly 13, 2017 at 6:07 PM

    Thank you for such a wonderful and inspiring post, it is so good to have the "normal" days and outings when you can. I am so very glad that Ed has kept so well during his chemo, keeping you all in my prayers. I dont think we have japanese beetles in the UK and i hope you find a solution to them eating your crops. Sue

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  21. So happy to hear that Ed is doing so well! Thank you for sharing all that you have with us. Like the other lady, I'm past needing child raising advice but so love to hear about your faith and the Christian walk as well as hear about recipes and labor-saving devices like the Hot Pot.

    We always have a huge garden and this year the Japanese beetles have been worse than usual. We've tried traps in the past and like others have said, they just seem to attract beetles from all over the county! The only way they help is to put them a very long way from the garden and check/empty them often into a bucket of soapy water. It's labor intensive but you can go thru the garden early in the morning before they're active and brush them into a bucket of gas, kerosene, etc or just soapy water since you have children!

    Prayers for Ed (& the family) continue in this household and I want to thank you for this blog and for all the sharing you do here!

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  22. Hi Gina, Good to hear Ed is feeling fairly good and can still work and drive. What a blessing for you all to be experiencing the normal aspects of life, shows you are accepting and living by faith. I think of you often and pray for your family.

    You don't need to post this on-line, but my question is financial in nature, do you need funds for medical expenses or are you planning any fundraisers? I know these things can be difficult. Take care!

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  23. I had a complete plague of the dreaded beetles. This year we resorted to using Ortho Yard and Garden Defense (the one safe for fruits/veggies). I picked everything I could first, and now will wash everything very carefully. I was faced with losing ALL my cherries, peaches, grapes, green beans, peas, cucumbers, and leaves/baby apples on my apple trees. There were leiterally thousands of them swarming my yard and gardens. I've done research and traps don't seem a great solution, since they can actually attract the beetles. We will be spending the $ to treat our yard and gardens with milky spore for the next few years. It's a natural way to stop the life cycle at the grub stage. Good luck!

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  24. I flick the beetles by the hundreds into a container of soapy water then feed them to the chickens. I heard that beneficial nematodes will help. We did try that for the first time this year. Don't see any improvement yet...
    If I could give medical advice I would suggest trying medical cannabis.

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  25. Hi Gina. Thank you so much for keeping us abreast with Eds condition as we pray for him, you, your children...

    Here in SW Missouri we are having a second bad year of Japanese Beetles though last year was worst ever. Just this past month I read something in a Missouri journal this tip: Collect a bunch of beetles in a jar, crunch them up good, cover with hot water to let sit a day or two to make an infusion of sorts. Strain and put "bug tea" in spray bottle. Spray the plants that are infested and then the beetles, says, won't want to go near their own dead selves. True advice. May make for good summer school assignment (compare and contrast) anyway. Ha. If it works, please let us know!

    God bless your happy summer memories being made...

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  26. Thanks for sharing about what is happening in your lives especially with Ed's cancer journey. So glad he has been doing as well as he is- you have time to make memories.
    As far as the Japanese beetles, we have not had a lot of them in the past few years, but our neighbors have traps. We have heard say you get MORE if you put traps out. So my conclusion is NO traps then they will stay at the neighbors,

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  27. Hello Gina, we are glad to hear that Ed is doing well and has been able to enjoy some family time. We pray for you all daily!
    I also thought maybe I should share with you what worked for us to get rid of Japanese beetles this summer. The Beetles were eating our rose bushes and our zinnias, including the flowers. I was also finding lots of Japanese beetles on my laundry. My husband sprayed the flowers with Sevin, bug killer. Within a few days the bugs were gone and our flowers were growing again! I know some people do not like to use insecticides but we wanted to save our rose bushes. My husband's family had used the beetle traps but they did not seem to take care of the problem so we decided to try Sevin, and it worked! I hope you find something that works for you!
    -Alicia

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  28. I didn't read all the comments. I suppose someone has already recommended Milky Spore. I had trouble many years ago with the Japanese beetles eating my grapes, roses, raspberries, etc., so went all through the garden and spread milky spore... just before winter snow after the last tilling. Drop some every 1-2 feet in a grid. This is the best cure for Japanese beetles. My husband will not let me hang traps as he says it just draws in more of them. I'm not sure 'cause is sure seems there were a lot of them in there trapped, but he may be right so haven't used them since and have been using the milky spore. Good organic remedy.

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  29. Glad to hear that Ed is doing well. Your family are in my prayers.
    As far as the Japanese beetles go, I use two traps/lures (Spectricide brand bought at Lowes) in my yard. But you have to put them in just the right places or they won't work. Read the directions enclosed in the pack and have multiple ones. And you have to put them out at the first sighting of a beetle. So this year they probably won't do any good. I would recommend knocking them in soapy water this year. You will still get a few beetles in your garden but not that many (I have saw less than a dozen in the garden this year while using my traps) Also they make a product (sold at Lowes also) called Garden Safe (brand) Fungicide 3. It has Japanese beetles listed on the label for bugs that it kills. It is organic safe also. I haven't tried it for the Japanese beetles, but I have used it for other bugs.
    Hope this helps!
    Do you know of anything that works on squash bugs? They have devastated by squash plants this year.

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  30. Hi Gina, my name is Rachel Habegger- you may or may not remember me as the only person who requested your sourdough recipes (thru KAH) with the option to share it via email:)

    Just today, I've been reading some of your recent posts and learned of the difficulty you're going thru with your husband's cancer. My prayers are certainly with you!!!!

    "For as the heaven are high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him" Psalm 103:11.

    Strength and blessings to you and yours...

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  31. How happy you all look..and sound! Praise the Lord that Ed is doing so well, may it continue!! I think that we(your readers) think about what to say, but don't want to appear intrusive. Speaking for myself, I always wonder, but don't ask. I figure that you'll share when you see fit. I appreciate what you do share and am always praying.so please be aware of that. As for the beetles, we haven't been bothered too bad yet. I have used traps before, but they are pricey, so I have none this year. As someone else said, Sevin seems to work, and its in Hubby's own mixture that he uses regularly. Maybe that's why they aren't bad? Good luck and God bless!

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  32. Gina, I am so thankful Ed is doing as well as he is. Please know, I continue to pray for him, for you and for your family. God bless.

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  33. Japanese Beetles....ugh! They will come back every year if you don't treat them. You must use a systemic bug killer We have to treat our trees for bag worms. It's a liquid. You mix it up with water & pour it around the tree trunk. That's all we ever did was treat the trees, this year I read the instructions! Imagine that...it said we could treat decorative shrubs& other plants. We treated all the crepe myrtyles & the Japanese Maple, & the Angel Trumpet. No Japanese Beetles this yeaR! We will have to retreat the trees because the winter was so mild that 2 (of like 20 oaks) have the bag worms back. The guy @ the home center siad they'll come back every year if you don't use a systemic treatment for the JB's. It's worked & we'll do it agian next year. As far as traps? I think you are just INVITING the bugs to an area with traps. Just my opinion...

    Also - Gina - Can I help you with anything?

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  34. Keeping you and your family in prayer, with love and huggs.

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  35. Just curious if we'll get to see you at Rhodes Grove?

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    1. Sure hope so. We look forward to it every summer.
      Gina

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  36. Hello and God bless you and your family!!! In a homeschooling mom of an autistic mom this summer. Found your blog by accident. Read it all night. Your family goes on our list of prayers, especially Ed. 😃 from St. Louis

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  37. Hello Gina & family, Praying for you as you go on this journey! I appreciate how you share what the Lord is doing in your lives.
    I am a 16-year-old with an interest in writing, and am wondering if you have any good book/writing tips that have helped you develop your writing talent?
    God bless, Joanna

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    1. I'm always eager to encourage developing writers. The two best things I did for my writing was 1. Practice. Writing nearly daily on this blog for several years was great practice and had the added benefit of instant feedback. 2. Get a mentor. My writers' group helped me see my weak areas and gave me feedback to improve. One of the best things you can do is find a writer a little better than you, ask if they will read your writing, and learn from their tips. Every writer can improve and accepting criticism is crucial to growth.

      There is lots of good writing books but if you go to the library you'll find that many of them have writing excerpts that are not fit reading. The kind of writing you do will make a difference what kind of writing books you need. I like On Writing WEll by William Zinsser for nonfiction writing and Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King for fiction writing. But there are many other great books.

      Happy Writing.
      Gina

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  38. We put diatomaceous earth on our apple and peach trees and noticed that the Japanese beetles were leaving them alone so we have now put it on our grapes and raspberries as well.

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  39. Hi Gina! I've just stumbled across the neatest website and hope it will give you a faith lift too:


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  40. I have started taking a bowl of water with dish soap in it and I put the beetles in it to drown them. At first I was patrolling my berries and grapes about three times a day but now only once or twice... many beetles disposed of in this manner. I also have a phermone trap that is working... I was shocked to check it and find beetles in the trap bag(I didn't think it was working at first). Last year I used a chemical powder but I'm more comfortable using less chemicals and drowning the Japanese beetles is much less expensive. I don't think my birds are eating them. Julie

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  41. Hi Gina! You have been in our thoughts and prayers constantly!
    For Japanese Beetles, we have guinea fowl patrolling the property.... for other nasty bugs and things too.
    -Lauren A

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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